Banana, the happy fruit rich in energy (Photo: iStock)

A banana or ndizi in Swahili is an elongated curved fruit produced by different types of herbaceous flowering plants.

Depending on the class, it could be yellow, green, red, purple or brown. The most common variety is the cavendish or dessert banana which has a firm green rind when unripe and a yellow flexible one when ripe.

Cavendish is sweeter when ripe mainly because the starch it contains when unripe is converted to sugar.

The perfect time to consume a ripe banana is when they have started producing a few brown spots on the rind because the production of Tumor Necrosis Factor (NFT), a substance that fights abnormal body cells, is at its peak.

Other varieties include plantain or green banana consumed when cooked and contain more starch than cavendish. The rest are red banana and lady finger.

There are different ways through which a banana can be consumed. The fruit can be used to make tasty smoothies or as a healthy baking ingredient.

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Many athletes fancy the fruit due to its high energy content that comes as a result of three natural sugars namely sucrose, lactose and glucose which it contains.  

Another compound found in bananas is tryptophan which is converted to serotonin by the body. Serotonin is known for improving moods and making you happy. That is why a banana is also a happy fruit.

Potassium is another nutrient found in bananas. It lowers blood sugar levels by balancing out sodium which elevates sugar levels.

Diabetes patients are however advised to consume bananas in moderation since they contain a lot of sugars. To counter this effect, they can pair bananas with a protein source like peanut butter or yoghurt.